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Ex-BOI boss gets top notch €55k home security deal

Tobacco firm coughs up €129,000 in perks for chairman Burrows

FORMER Bank of Ireland governor Richard Burrows -- who was at the helm as the bank went on a manic lending spree to developers -- received more than €11,100 last year for the "maintenance of home security systems" from the listed cigarette firm British American Tobacco where he serves as chairman. The company had earlier paid over €55,200 for "installation and maintenance of home security systems" at the former banker's Dublin home.

Bank of Ireland stumbled into State ownership and needed to be rescued by taxpayers after billions of euro of property loans went bad. Taxpayers were forced to inject €3.5bn into the bank to stop it collapsing. Burrows and his chief executive Brian Goggin stepped down from the bank in 2009. Shareholders at the bank's AGM heard Burrows issue a grovelling apology for the rising losses and tumbling share price. "My colleagues and I deeply regret these losses that you have suffered and we apologise unreservedly to you," he said.

But the catastrophe at Bank of Ireland didn't affect Burrows' career trajectory and he has reinvented himself as a boardroom grandee in Britain. Within two months of leaving Bank of Ireland, he was appointed to the board of British American Tobacco, becoming the company chairman soon after. It's a spectacularly well paid job. Last February Burrows bagged a €32,000 pay rise for his role as part-time chairman of the British tobacco firm. He will now earn a salary of €741,000, up from €709,000 last year. Burrows had also been given a mega pay rise in February 2011, with his salary rising from over €653,000 to €709,000.

As well as €11,000 to maintain his home security system, Burrows also received perks worth around €129,000 last year from BAT. His contract at the cigarette firm also sees him receive "the use of a driver, private medical insurance and personal accident insurance benefits".

Last year the company paid almost €63,000 to cover the cost of Burrows' driver as well as over €15,700 for his health insurance.

The remaining €39,000 was for other expenses including "hotel accommodation and related expenses incurred in connection with individual and/or accompanied attendance at certain business functions and/or corporate events".

In 2010, he received a far bigger package of perks worth over €209,000. The latest annual report notes that the benefits "are restated to take account of the change in the company's reporting of hotel accommodation and related expenses in respect of directors' attendance at board meetings of the company in the UK in respect of which UK tax is payable". BAT did not comment.

Burrows' job at BAT isn't his only plum role in British corporate life. The former Pernod Ricard chief is a board member of rat poison firm Rentokil as well as serving as a director of Carlsberg.

Last week he was appointed as a €131,000 per year non-executive director of controversial FTSE-listed Kazakh mining firm Eurasian Natural Resources (ENRC). The company, which was described as "more soviet than city" by a former non-executive director, has hired new board members in a move to address perceived corporate governance issues at the mining firm.

Sunday Indo Business